The day after you lose your best friend is actually worse than the day that you watch him hang. Because at least while you’re watching him die, the whole thing has an air of reality somehow, even if it’s the worst reality you’ve ever experienced. But the day after he’s dead, you wake up with this sense of unreal-ness, like maybe you dreamed it all, and now it will all be put right.
Every corner you turn, you expect to find his face on the other side. And every time a conversation starts, you strain to hear his voice. I think that’s really why we’re hiding. I mean, we’re hiding from the authorities, of course, because if Jesus is… dead, then surely the rest of us are soon to follow. But I think we’re also hiding from seeing him everywhere we used to spend time with him–in the market, at the table, sitting by the sea.
The truth is, it’s the silence and the emptiness that’s the worst of it. Because at least when you’re crying, you’re doing something. Most of us have spent the day together, and sometimes we’ve talked, or prayed, or cried together, but mostly we just sit in silence and stare at the wall, wondering what to do. Wondering how this man who we gave our whole lives to could suddenly be gone.
This man who calmed the storm and healed the sick. This man who brought Moses and Elijah to the mountain. This man who brought a man back from the dead. That’s the hardest part. To know that he could have saved himself.
Or maybe he couldn’t have. Or worse–maybe he didn’t want to.
And why not? We, his best friends, ran away from him at the time he needed us most. We were so afraid. We’re still so afraid. And aren’t we right to be? If they can kill Jesus, what are any of us?
But still, I can’t help but remember all of the moments when each one of us turned our backs on him, the one we swore to follow to the grave–past the grave. And still, we deserted him. So why should he save himself? If we were his best friends, what did he have here? Everyone hated him, even those who claimed to love him. We’re proof of that. So maybe it makes sense that he didn’t throw himself down from the cross as many begged him to do. Maybe it makes sense that he was silent in the face of his accusers even though they had no case against him.
We believed he was the son of God. That emptiness, that silence that follows the death of anyone you love–I’ve never felt it like this. Because he had changed everything, or so we thought. And now we just don’t know what to do.
And for him to die on a cross. On that symbol of the Roman government that we hate so much, that enslaves us, that we believed Jesus came here to finally free us from. He talked so often about loosing the shackles of the enslaved, about how his burden was easy and his yoke was light. But he was killed by that same power that holds all of us in oppression. And if he couldn’t beat it, what chance do any of us have?
I’m trying not to think about all of the faces that are soon to follow in his footsteps. Faces of my brothers and sisters that I’ve spent the last three years living with and praying with and eating with and loving. Faces that I know will confront death sooner than any of us can imagine. Faces I may never see again.
The sky is still dark. The sun has died. The women tell us that when he was on the cross, he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Well, that’s how we feel, too.